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Does retail banking need to make an Amazonian effort to keep pace?

Consumer expectations are growing. Recent research suggests that given the chance, over half of financial consumers would opt to bank with Amazon. Why? Because a company famous for delivery innovation, outstanding customer service and indeed thinking outside the box has fundamentally disrupted the service industry, reinventing what it means to provide a best in class customer experience. We believe that in the age of the expectation economy, there is much that retail giant Amazon and disruptors like it, can teach brands about what it means to provide an outstanding experience and stand out from the crowd.

Should retail banking take its cue from Amazon?

There is no shortage of commentators noting that the retail banking is set for change with a new breed of innovators entering the industry. It’s not only Millennials that are demanding more Amazon-like experiences from every service provider and banks need to catch up quickly. All customers are making these demands. The opportunity is huge.

No-fuss problem-solving, always-on access, out-of-hours, or even same-day delivery, and new ideas daily are all reasons why Amazon is leading digital. Banks can of course argue that Amazon is a digitally native company. It was built on a digital-first framework that lets it be completely iterative. It isn’t hamstrung by decades of legacy systems and stringent regulation. But increasingly, neither are banks.

There is so much opportunity for traditional financial services providers to leverage their data and heritage to become fully successful customer-centric organisations.

Emulating three key pillars of Amazon’s underlying strategy is not a bad place to start.

1. Data today underpins everything

It is the hygiene factor. Retail banking should be working to de-silo data, enrich it and make it work across the omnichannel. But using data intelligently creates an opportunity for intimate, one-to-one connections with customers, and automation efficiencies that it is no exaggeration to say, have the potential to revolutionise retail banking.

2. Partnering with new, agile service providers

Whether this is in enhancing back-end systems through Software as a Service (Saas) or managed services, or in creating front-end solutions for more tech-oriented segments is a strong way to follow Amazon’s service example. Amazon may have huge warehouses but it can’t provide everything. For the things it can’t, it finds the right partners who can.

3. Trust has been paramount to setting Amazon at the top of the retail tree

Incorporating genuine customer reviews from the start, creating full price transparency ('product is cheaper from these sellers') and no-quibble customer service brought the customer on-side even in the early days of e-commerce when buyers were wary. Prioritising building trust is one of today’s ‘must dos' for retail finance.

Getting started building a truly customer-centric, omnichannel organisation is daunting, but if you want to thrive and differentiate in a crowded market place, it is key.

David Hitt, Industry Head, Qubit